Michigan Tech’s Blizzard Baja team took home an 8th place finish at the recent Baja SAE North American Competition in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in May.
“Our 8th place finish was sealed by a 4th place finish in the final 4-hour Endurance event Sunday morning,” says team faculty advisor, Assistant Teaching Professor Kevin Johnson. “We were in 2nd place in the Endurance event for a long time until we had a steering arm failure on the car. The team quickly replaced the steering knuckle in the pits and got back on the track with a half hour remaining in the race. Regardless of this setback we were able to finish in 4th place.”
Earlier in the race, the team received a black flag, due to their car numbers not being visible due to mud buildup. The team had to enter the pit to clean them off, which set them back a bit, as well.
“This year we had a very strong team with outstanding participation,” adds Johnson. “The team had two major obstacles; a working reliable 4 wheel drive system and a new larger Kohler engine to replace the Briggs that had been used for many years previously.”
Michigan Tech’s Blizzard Baja is one of 25 Enterprise teams, part of Michigan Tech’s award-winning Enterprise Program.
The Blizzard Baja team consists of numerous sub-teams. One of those, the 4×4 Senior Design team with members William Rivet and Alec Pominville, scrapped the 4×4 design from last year due to major issues. “They went through some iterations including a belt and a chain drive and finally ended up with a drive shaft, gearbox, and differentials design,” notes Johnson. “They put countless hours into design, manufacturing, and testing the last two semesters with help from a number of other students.”
This year, Michigan Tech served as host to Fei Baja, the SAE Baja team from Centro Universitário FEI, a university in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. “The team from Brazil contacted our team through social media asking if MTU Baja SAE would be willing to host them,” said Johnson. It turned out to be a fantastic experience for both teams.
“The best part of the competition was seeing all of our hard work pay off in the form of a top 10 finish,” said Gregory Jowett, a mechanical engineering student who serves as President of Michigan Tech’s Blizzard Baja SAE team.
“Whether someone was directly working on the vehicle, doing modeling or simulation, or making sure the trip ran smoothly, it’s incredibly rewarding to see everyone’s effort culminate in a successful experience like it did in Oshkosh,” he says.
“I am extremely proud of the entire team and feel they represented Michigan Tech very well.”
“Needing to modify our frame to pass technical inspections and breaking an a-arm during the endurance race were some of the larger setbacks we faced. In both cases, the team was able to efficiently work together to quickly solve both problems. Even after an early morning and 3.5 hours of racing, the team was able to replace the a-arm in the pits and get our driver back out on the track in less than 10 minutes.”
The success experienced by our team is a direct reflection of Blizzard Baja’s “work hard, play hard” culture,” adds Jowett. “We enjoy team bonding when we have free time, but when there are things to do, none of our members hesitate to selflessly step up and get things done.”
“Props to our pit crew!”
As for joining the team, the Blizzard Baja enterprise conducts interviews for prospective new members twice per year. For more information, students can visit the website at baja.mtu.edu or email the team at email@example.com.